The introduction of the 12 steps of Alcoholics Anonymous has created, for the first time in history, a program to recover from alcoholism. With its success, many other 12 step programs have been created to help folks cope with any number of different addictions or imbalances in their lives.
The beautiful thing about these programs is that they work for those who work for them, and most of them can be found all over the world.
Founded in 1953 in Southern California by Jimmy K and friends, NA was created to help people whose primary addictions focused on substances other than alcohol. It adopted the basic 12 steps from AA with some minor changes and continued to expand rapidly, all detailed in the book Narcotics Anonymous. According to http://www.greaterlosangelesna.org, meetings have soared to over 50,000 a day in over 130 countries.
With the rise of pharmaceutical drugs and the ever-increasing heroin epidemic, NA has become a crucial 12 step program for thousands of people with any drug based addiction.
Cocaine Anonymous is a specialized 12 step program for, just as it sounds, people whose main addiction was based around cocaine. Founded in November of 1982 in Southern California, this 12 step program is also based upon the original 12 steps of Alcoholics Anonymous. Similar to NA, CA has been critical with the upswing of cocaine and crack users in the past 30-40 years. Where I live, Cocaine Anonymous meetings are known for being a fun and lively event, go figure!
Al-anon is a crucial 12 step program for families and loved ones of alcoholics and addicts. It helps in teaching them how to cope with and understand us by sharing their experiences with others like themselves. Al-anon has developed into several categories for spouses, teens, grandparents, etc. And like the other 12 step programs, it provides them with the opportunity to get a sponsor and find a new strength and peace of mind through a 12 step program.
CoDa is a fellowship for people whose primary aim is to learn to develop healthy and loving relationships. These meetings could be helpful for anyone who struggles with finding their own independence in life without the emotional dependence on other people. I personally know several people throughout AA, NA, and Al-anon who also attend CoDa meetings. They also use sponsors and work their own 12 steps, and their 4 pillars are recovery, discovery, self, and respect.
OA is a fellowship for people who suffer from any form of addictive eating, encompassing binge eating, compulsive overeating, bulimia, anorexia, etc. This fellowship was founded in 1960 primarily by Rozanne S who was inspired by AA meetings to create a 12 step program to help people with eating disorders. There are now countless treatment centers who deal with dual diagnosis addicts, and a massive number of them struggle with both eating and drug and alcohol addictions.
So far I’ve only listed a small handful of the full spectrum of 12 step meetings. There are a bunch of other specialized groups that focus on addiction and recovery such as:
- ACA – Adult Children of Alcoholics
- CLA – Clutterers Anonymous
- CMA – Crystal Meth Anonymous
- Co-Anon – families and friends of alcoholics
- CoSa – Codependents of Sex Anonymous
- DA – Debtors Anonymous
- EA – Emotions Anonymous
- GA – Gamblers Anonymous
- HA – Heroin Anonymous
- MA – Marijuana Anonymous
- NiCa – Nicotine Anonymous
- SA – Sexaholics Anonymous
- SLA- Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous
The development of countless 12 step programs have only been introduced since the beginning of Alcoholics Anonymous in 1935 but have helped thousands upon thousands of people recover from unhealthy addictions and mental states.
One of the things I find most beautiful about all of these fellowships can be found in a quote from the book of Alcoholics Anonymous:
“We are average Americans. All sections of this country and many of its occupations are represented, as well as many political, economical, social, and religious backgrounds. We are people who normally would not mix. But there exists among us a fellowship, a friendliness, and an understanding which is indescribably wonderful.”
From There is a Solution, page 17, Alcoholics Anonymous
For many of us in the world that live with the challenges of having an addiction or loving someone who does, we often feel alone or misunderstood by those who haven’t experienced or felt the way we have. These 12 step programs have been, for some of us, the only real comfort and feeling of unity that we find in the beginning of our recovery. The best part about it is the immensely vast array of people who attend them. People of all walks of the earth can be found inside all of these different fellowships.
When I walk into the rooms of Alcoholics Anonymous, I know that I belong. I am surrounded by like-minded people who have gazed into the dark abyss that I have, and who have come back, stronger and willing to grow towards a life of peace of mind and serenity. Sometimes I feel a little sorry for “normal people” because they might never find anything so beautiful and freely given that we have in these rooms!
While these different fellowships aim to help the members recover from different things, they all work because of the unity that comes from two or more people, who share their experiences, trials, and tribulations, with each other, for the common goal of discovering and developing a new way to live.
Getting Help For Addiction
If you need help overcoming addiction, treatment is an effective option. If you are a woman looking for treatment, Wayside House can help you. A woman’s treatment center offers a safe, supportive environment and our programs are developed specifically to address the unique needs of women. Our therapies and treatments are normally found only in the more expensive treatment centers, but Wayside House is affordable. For more information, contact us at 800-655-0817.